Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 2011
Publication Date: November 11, 2012
Citation: Ledbetter, C.A. 2012. Postharvest dried apricot color degradation of three California apricot accessions. Acta Horticulturae. 966:163-168. Interpretive Summary: While California’s apricot acreage has been in decline for several decades, there were still 36,000 tons of fresh apricots processed for the California dry apricot market in 2010. High product quality is necessary for consistent repeat sales, and product color is an important consideration for consumers of dry apricot. Some apricot cultivars lose attractive color after drying and during storage, restricting availability during the winter holiday season. Color loss of dried Patterson apricot was evaluated during seven months of storage and compared with two other apricot accessions (Goldensweet and Y117) that can be used to produce dried fruit. The analyses demonstrated that color loss in the stored dry product is accession dependent, limiting potential storage period of dry fruit produced from some accessions. Patterson, the predominant apricot cultivar grown in California, could be held in storage for between four and five months before product darkening made it unsalable. Color retention in Goldensweet and Y117 was much better than in Patterson, with both accessions being marketable after seven months of storage. These results will be useful for apricot dry-yards focused on sales during the winter holiday season where long term product storage is necessary.
Technical Abstract: California’s dry apricot industry has provided high quality products for nearly a century, annually accounting for approximately 20% of available tonnage. The Patterson cultivar currently dominates California dry apricot sales, but the cultivar is not without faults. Newer cultivars and breeding accessions are being evaluated for quality attributes when processed as dry product. Apricot cultivars ‘Patterson,’ ‘Goldensweet’ and breeding selection Y117 were evaluated for changes in CIELAB coordinates L*, a* and b*, as well as color components chroma and hue throughout a seven month storage period at 25C. Fresh fruit samples of the three accessions differed significantly in initial quality characteristics (flesh firmness, Brix and juice acidity), with cultivar ‘Goldensweet’ being harvested at a more fully mature state. Drying ratios of the three accessions varied significantly and ranged from 3.96 (Y117) to 4.61 (Patterson). Pre-storage dry apricot halves from the three accessions were visually distinct, and color coordinates L*, a*, b*, chroma and hue all varied significantly among the accessions. Values of L*, a*, b* and chroma decreased throughout the storage period for all apricot accessions, but the rate of decrease was accession dependent. Hue values of dried apricot halves remained relatively constant during the seven month storage period, regardless of accession. Color degradation was most pronounced in cultivar ‘Patterson,’ holding sufficient visual appeal for marketability between four to five months in storage. In contrast to ‘Patterson,’ dried halves of ‘Goldensweet’ and Y117 were deemed marketable at the end of seven months storage and therefore suitable for sales during the important holiday period.